JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE WORLD
My spiritual journey has taken many twists and turns, the first being a mid-life career change into the Protestant Christian ministry, with my first formal spiritual education being the pursuit of a Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from Chicago Theological Seminary at the University of Chicago.
During the course of my ministry on the South Side of Chicago, which included parish ministry as well as pastoral counseling and hospice chaplaincy, I participated in the 100th Anniversary Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago. The Dalai Lama was the keynote speaker, and that experience indirectly led to my being invited to spend time with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist community in Dharamsala, India. Out of that experience came my first book, THE NEW MANDALA - Eastern Wisdom for Western Living, written in collaboration with His Holiness.
After a year and a half in India, studying with the Dalai Lama and other high lamas and spiritual teachers, I returned to the United States and joined the staff of Menla Mountain Retreat Center, an endeavor of Tibet House New York and loosely affiliated with the Office of His Holiness, where I assisted in leading spiritual retreats. In 2011 Menla Mountain hosted an historic gathering of Native American Elders from throughout the Americas. It was during that amazing spiritual event that I met the delegation of Elders of the Kogi, the Arhuaco and the Wiwa from la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia. We became spiritual brothers almost immediately, and they invited me to come to Colombia, to learn from them, and to write a book that would share their urgent environmental and spiritual message with the world.
My spiritual journey has been traveled a little bit 'backwards.' It began with contemporary American Chris-tianity and then a classical European-style seminary education that included a good deal of European histo-ry and the religion of the ancient Hebrews. That was followed by my introduction to Buddhism, which pre-dates Christianity by some one thousand years, and the Hindu tradition which is much older than that. Final-ly, I have come somewhat full circle, having been immersed in the oldest 'religious' tradition on Earth - the spirituality of the first peoples to inhabit the planet.
What I have learned along the way is the commonality of all the world's spiritual traditions, not spending much time dissecting their obvious differences. It is the universal truths of the world's traditions that has most profoundly impressed me. In the end there is no Christian or Jewish truth, no Buddhist or Hindu truth, not even any uniquely indigenous truth. There is only Truth. What the peoples of la Sierra and other original peoples call simply the Natural Law.
We are all on a journey to the heart of the world. From the moment I was invited to join my indigenous friends in Colombia, it has been my hope that I might come to more deeply understand that Truth, and then be able to share the wisdom of these ancient modern-day prophets. They are our ancestors, and their environmental and spiritual message - that our Earth Mother is gravely ill and we must change our ways if she and we are to survive - is a message that we need to hear and pass on to the next generation. It is the young people of today who hold the fate of the planet and humanity in their hands.
It was with a hope that we, you and I, might one day be good ancestors to our children and grandchildren, that I listened intently to my wise teachers and wrote this little book. It is a fiction since I firmly believe that fantasy engages the reader's imagination in a manner that no mere facts are able. I have tried to make the hero, Adam, someone we all can identify with. His transformation can be our transformation. And ultimately we can all fall in love with our Earth Mother all over again, can return to our ancient understanding of the interconnectedness of all of life, and begin again to follow our evolutionary calling - to become the Heart of the World, the loving, caring compassionate heart of the living planet.